SWITZERLAND by Louise Gorbatov

Switzerland – Interlaken & The Bernese Oberland.

My Journey started on the evening of Thursday 9th May where I checked into the Thistle at London Heathrow.

In the early hours of Friday, I checked out and headed to the Heathrow Pod (Less than a 5-minute walk from reception) – The Heathrow Pods are automatic driverless electronic vehicles that transport you between The Thistle and Terminal 5 in just 5 minutes.

After checking in and a quick breakfast, we boarded our British Airway flight to Zurich. On arrival, we were met by our hosts for this trip from the Switzerland Travel Centre and checked our luggage in for the luggage transfer service where it was delivered directly to our hotel from the airport.  We then headed, luggage free to the train station and made our way to Interlaken.

After a short walk to the boat station, we embarked on our boat for lunch on a 90-minute picturesque journey to Brienz.

Following this we took a short train journey back to Interlaken where we checked into our hotel, Lindner Grand Hotel Beau Rivage, this was our home for the next 2 nights. After a quick freshen up we took the short walk into the heart of Interlaken to ‘The Funky Chocolate Club’. In this 75 minute workshop, we learnt about the origin’s of chocolate as well as how to identify and understand the different tastes chocolate can have. We then created our own masterpieces.

Day 2, Saturday 11th May was an early breakfast ready for our full-day excursion. After a train, bus and a few cable cars we reached the summit of the Schilthorn at 2970 metres above sea level.

First stop was the ‘Thrill Walk’. This is a 200-metre-long steel and glass bridge that clings to the side of the rock at Schilthorn. The cliff path has several sections that you need to walk, climb or crawl through, including an eight-metre long tunnel area above a 250m drop.

After a quick Hot Chocolate (it was -1oc!) we braved the snow and enjoyed the most spectacular view of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau (UNESCO World Heritage). We then headed back into the warm to visit ‘Bond World’. Many scenes were filmed at Piz Gloria for the 1969 James Bond 007 film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The interactive exhibition transports you to the world of James Bond, getting an intriguing glimpse behind the scenes of the movie.

The next stop was lunch at 360-degree Restaurant Piz Gloria, the restaurant rotates around its own axis in 45 minutes, gliding past more than 200 mountain peaks. Unfortunately for us by the time we reached here, it was too misty to see any more than a blanket of snow, however still an experience in itself. After an all you can eat buffet, we made our way down the Schilthorn and took a brief stop in Murren. Murren is a car-free traditional Walser mountain village at the foot of the Schilthorn peak.

Our journey back began with a stop off at Trummelback Falls, the world’s only glacier waterfalls that are accessible underground by lift, tunnels and paths built in 1913.

Once back in Interlaken some of us decided to make the most of our time in The Bernese Oberland by taking a trip up to Harder Kulm. We headed to the Harder Railway Valley station, directly opposite our hotel. Travel time to the top was just 10 minutes by modern funicular. From the viewing platform at 1,322 metres above sea level, we looked down on Lake Brienz and Lake Thurn.

This evening we walked over to Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa for a site inspection followed by dinner in their fine dining Italian restaurant.

Sunday we checked out and left our luggage with the hotel to be transported back to the airport ready for our return flight this afternoon.  We then made our way to the train station and on to Ballenberg. Ballenberg is an open-air museum that displays traditional buildings and architecture from all over the country. You can visit and admire over 100 rural houses and farm buildings from all over Switzerland. These historical buildings could not be maintained at their original location and were, therefore, carefully dismantled and transported to the museums 66 hectares of land to be reconstructed. Kitchens, parlours, and other quarters provide insight into the daily life of rural Switzerland.

Our morning exploring a small amount of Ballenburg ended with a 30 minute guided tour by horse and carriage.

We then picked up a packed lunch and made our train journey back to Zurich airport. On arrival, we collected our baggage and headed to check-in before boarding our return flight back to London Heathrow.

My thanks go to Classic Collection who hosted us. It was a fantastic trip and an insight into a beautiful part of the world. A country that I would love to explore more of.